DIY Christmas for the babies

Right now Hunter is really into books. 

He LOVES reading books, and by reading, I mean pointing at the pictures (mostly all the things that look like balls) and making me read the same page 17 times.

What he loves more than books (and balls) is family pictures.

We can't walk up to his bedroom without stopping to look at each photo on our gallery wall and explaining who is in the picture and what we were doing.  He loves it. 

He can pick out me and Chris in any photo.  It's like his version of Where's Waldo, finding "dad-dad" in all the photos.

So for Christmas, when I was thinking of what to get the kiddos (Annabelle and Hunter), it finally dawned on me.

Duh, they would love a book full of pictures of people they know.

I set out to make them each a book of our family so I started to look for an online resource that would allow me to upload our pictures and have them print it and ship it to me.

Of all the photo book websites, none of them print board books- you know, the kind with cardboard pages that little hands can't rip.

I finally tracked down a site that actually prints these books, but it would cost a small fortune for one, and I wasn't really willing to spend nearly $50 on each book.

So, I decided to see if I could DIY this little project.

I simply bought a few board books from the baby consignment store to start the project. I found this one for $2.99.
To "prime" the book for my project, I painted the pages with white craft paint that I had on hand.  I needed to cover up the images on the page and create a blank slate of sorts- as I was worried that the images on the page may bleed through.

I found I needed to do the painting in waves, so that the pages wouldn't stick together. I figured this out AFTER I had painted some pages and then found them all stuck together in the morning....
I wasn't exactly sure what kind of paper I should use as my new pages, but since I was at home, I simply printed the pictures/pages out at home on my regular printer on regular printer paper. 

It was a bit of trial and error, but I figured I already had the printer paper on hand, and if it didn't work, I could always go get thicker paper.
Luckily, the printer paper worked perfectly and I didn't need to purchase anything more to accomplish this project.

The mos time intensive part was finding all the photos I wanted to use and making sure I found photos that had the kiddos in them (because Hunter loves looking at photos of himself almost as much as he likes looking at photos of his dad).

So, once I had 24 pages including a front and back cover (with a spine) printed, I traced the book size onto each page and carefully cut it out.
Since this was a learn-as-I-go type of project, I realized that I needed to cut down the pages quite a bit, so they allowed for room along the seam of the book (if the page was too close to the seam, it wouldn't close properly).
So I ended up trimming and trimming until the page fit perfectly. And when I say perfectly, I'm lying.  Sometimes I trimmed too much, and sometimes, the trimming wasn't exactly straight....but come on, these babies are going to mostly chew on the book and throw it (at least in Hunter's case), so perfection wasn't exactly my aim. 

Once I had the pages close enough to the right size, I used my handy-dandy corner rounder (that I bought when I made my own wedding invitations) and simply rounded the outside corners to match the book.
All of these steps were more time consuming than I had really anticipated.

I was tired, and I had a hand cramp.

So, I took a break and did the final step the next day.

Basically, I pulled out the 10 year old jar of modge podge, which remarkably hasn't dried up or gone bad, and used a foam brush to glue the pages down.
I did a three step gluing system which was very scientific.

Step 1: Brush glue on the book page.
Step 2: Pleace paper page down and scoot it around until it looked good.
Step 3: Cover page with modge podge to seal it (and protect it from baby slobber)

The modge-podging step takes FOREVER.

Because I had learned about sticky pages with the earlier painting/priming step, I had to do 2 pages per night to ensure they fully dried and we didn't have any stick-age. 

I laid it flat overnight and the next day I ddi two more.  If anyone is a math major, and did some quick calculating, you will know that this took me the better part of 2 weeks.

That's dedication people.

And then all of a sudden, I had finished one book (Annabelle's), and I was pretty darn proud of myself.
Poor Hunter hasn't yet received his book.

Maybe he'll get it for Valentine's day.

Luckily he is VERY busy with his new matchbox cars, grocery cart and assorted musical instruments to even notice that he is missing his very own family book.

Even with the huge investment of my time, I think the DIY version was well worth it.

If I'm feeling particularly inspired, I may make Hunter a few books.  ABC's, family pictures, animals etc...although if I have time to do all that crafting, I may have time to nap....and napping is amazing.